BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Tuesday afternoon, the Baton Rouge Police Department held a press conference, in response to a recent lawsuit after complaints of a recent officer involving the “Brave Cave” facility.
21-year-old Baton Rouge man Jeremy Lee was arrested on Jan. 9 after BRPD showed up at a home on Cadillac Street, looking for illegal drugs, guns, and large sums of money.
Officer Troy Lawrence Jr. was one of the four officers involved in Lee’s arrest. According to the lawyers, Lee was forced to ‘pull down his pants’ in search of illegal drugs. Lawrence attacked four different people in 90 seconds. When Lee is forced onto the ground, Lawrence threatens to beat him if he keeps struggling to fight the officers.
An Associate Professor of University Virginia Law, Thomas Frampton, who is one of the attorneys representing Lee, has been following Troy Lawrence Jr.’s complaints for the past five years.
According to Frampton, Lawrence has been suspended four times and still continues to be employed by the police department.
“As far as we can tell, he has been suspended four times for misconduct, more than anyone else with his level of seniority,” said Frampton. “He is relatively young, but he is the son of Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr. and one has to wonder the amount of wrong-doing he’s been allowed to get away with has anything to do with that fact.”
Frampton also describes the number of injuries Lawrence gave to Lee during his time of arrest and that he ‘violated his rights’.
“They separated him from the people he had been arrested with and they proceeded to beat the s*** out of him,” said Frampton.
Court documents describe it as a “torture warehouse” where attorneys said a man was taken to instead of the parish prison by Lawrence. Attorneys said that’s where the man was beaten by Lawrence and others.
“That’s when Troy Lawrence Jr. took him to the East Baton Rouge Prison. The local jail refused to accept him, and actually forced the officer to take him to the hospital,” said Frampton.
The lawsuit stated that Lawrence “constructed a false police report” accusing the detained man of attempting to escape the warehouse and accusing him of battery. According to attorneys, the report of battery doesn’t claim that the man touched Lawrence.
In 2021, a federal lawsuit revealed Lawrence was accused of using excessive force by yanking a woman out of her car. In that case, BRPD officials ruled his behavior appropriate but violated policies regarding officer conduct.
Following these allegations, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released a statement Tuesday saying:
“These allegations deeply concern me, especially given the potential impact on the trust our community places in us—a trust we’ve worked tirelessly to establish.”
During the press conference, Chief Murphy Paul had never heard of the term ‘Brave Cave’ before this recent federal lawsuit.
“We will investigate this just like we investigate all other complaints,” said Paul.
The police department said the facility has been in operation for Narcotics and Street Crime officers for more than 20 years. Within the past six months, they have taken in over 300 suspects for questioning. Last year, the facility took in over 650 people for questioning, as well as seeing drugs and guns.
Paul said the narcotics officers have had a history of controversy over the past several years.
Last year, Baton Rouge Police Detectives arrested Baton Rouge Police Corporal Jason Acree on charges of possession with the intent to distribute Schedule I and malfeasance in office.
Chief Murphy said they conducted an audit over the recent arrest, as well as toured the facility, noticing that more cameras need to be installed as well as a separation interview room.
“Based on that audit, we have made sure that the camera system there covered all points of interest in that facility,” said Paul.
“What Chief Paul didn’t say in the press conference is that he personally spoke with Jeremy Lee’s mother in January of this year, when she complained… And then Internal Affairs received a complaint in April of this year,” said Frampton.